The COVID-19 coronavirus infectious agent now exponentially spreading worldwide seems like a plague from a distant past.
In reality, pandemics have occurred regularly over the last 20 years (the SARS pandemic in 2002-03, the H5N1 bird flu epidemic in 2006-07, the H1N1 swine flu epidemic in 2009, the MERS virus in 2012-15), and, according to leading health experts, we can expect more in the near future.
The irony is that today’s technology might be facilitating the spreading of localized epidemics into worldwide pandemics. Ubiquitous, same-day transportation that carried carriers of the disease from one continent to another in a matter of hours made the rapid spread of COVID-19 inevitable. The first line of defense—containment—really never had a chance.
But what about the upside of modern-day technology in fighting COVID-19, notably modern-day health-related hardware and software? Where has medical technology been in fighting this plague?
As it turns out, the tools for fighting pandemics are right under our noses. The medical technology to help prevent the spread of future infectious agents, and even to fight the one in our midst, exists now. Each of the four technologies discussed below has all the essential capabilities to meet the enemy head-on and, if not vanquish it, seriously curtail its harm.